Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ranger Cookies

This is one of Melissa's favorite cookies. It is delicious, and has just about everything in it except the kitchen sink. It would also be wonderful with chocolate chips or maybe white chocolate chips added. We are going to use these in our cookie gift platters this year.

Ranger Cookies
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup butter flavored shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
3 lrg. eggs, room temperature
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups quick oats
2 1/2 cups Rice Krispies
1 3/4 cups sweet coconut flakes
3/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silpat. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside. Combine the oats, Rice Krispies, coconut and pecans in another bowl and stir to combine. Set aside. Cream the butter, shortening and sugar at medium high speed. Add the vanilla and then the eggs one at a time. Beat until well incorporated. On low speed, add the flour mixture in two stages. Now, add the oat mixture in two stages. Drop by tablespoons, or a medium cookie scoop. Bake approximately 10-12 minutes or until set.

Some of my Favorite Baking Tools

These are a few of the things that makes baking a little more enjoyable for me.
Silpat, I'm sure everyone knows what these are by now.

CIA's measuring spoons

CIA's measuring cups. I like the rounded bottom (easy for scooping) and the short, chunky handles, again, easy for scooping.

These strainers are wonderful for sifting flour.

A lemon squeezer, quick and easy, and the small holes keep the seeds from escaping

Messermeister's heat resistant spoon, for those of us with wooden spoon issues.

Chicago Metallic's mini cheesecake pan.

Rosle's spatula. I love that it has a stainless steel handle (can go in the dishwasher, also see above wood issue lol) and it's heat resistant.

OXO liquid angled measuring cups. You can see the measurements from the inside, no bending down to see amount.

OXO cookie scoop. What did we do before these???

What are some of your must haves in the kitchen?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Soap Dispenser

Remember the fabulous soap dispenser that we were all wondering where we could purchase?
I came across one that looks very similar here.
What do you think?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Little Kitchen Inspiration

I love the openness of this kitchen. The long table (love the chairs) it just says family and friends to me.

Of course right away I'm drawn to the organized cabinets.

This just makes me happy. Look at all that whiteware, perfectly stacked. And a ton of it. I don't particularly care for a lot of "stuff"... But having this stuff is wonderful ;)
Just look at that floor, and the counters!
all images:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Imagine the Possibilities

This home is for sale in my town. I know... it has awful curb appeal (It's an REO, in the middle of a re-model) and it's on the main street.
But... check out the inside.

Love the windows, and it has built-ins!
Wouldn't this home be fun to decorate?
I can really imagine it all decked out for Christmas.

Love the kitchen, the wood counters look very warm. Wonder what the up-keep would be like? Professional stove, glass front white cabinets.

So the outside needs a lot of help, but it looks like the inside is practically move-in ready. It has such charm! It was built the same year as my home. I sure would like to see the rest. I might just have to go check it out. You can find more information here. Not a bad price in this area, especially considering the size.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Have You Started Decorating???

Ok, I'm giving in. I'm surrounded by Christmas ;)
We are pretty much decorated at the kitchen store, we already have Christmas music playing in the background.

I have been seeing Christmas inspiration at all the blogs I visit.
I'm not complaining, I love Christmas. I just wasn't ready for it to happen quite so fast.
Heck, we have even been playing the Santa Clause movies at home. NON-STOP

With all this going on around me, tonight I find myself thinking about my own Christmas decorations that are safely stored away in the garage. Wondering if it's too early to start bringing some of it in???
And as of today, I'm finished with my Christmas shopping (other than the kids) yay! Let's just say refer to the prior post, and there will be lots of baking involved.

all images: country living

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


We are lucky enough to have a BIA Cordon Bleu warehouse close by. It's also one of the vendors that we carry at the kitchen store. Once a year, for 4 days, they open up the warehouse to the public and have a huge sale on select, and overstock items. They replenish throughout the day, and there is always new items each day. The prices are incredible! There was a long line when we got there this morning, everyone ready with their carts. There were restaurant owners, people from the bay area etc... all waiting for a bargain. And what a bargain it was. I could have totally gone crazy, but refrained. This is what I scored, I was lucky to get that soup tureen. There were only 3. I wonder what I'll be missing tomorrow???

Fairy Drops

After 20 years of exclusively using my Sugar Cookie recipe, (all right, so it's really Betty's) I tried a new version. The ingredients are very similar to the one that I have always used, but I was intrigued.
After a taste test, I'll have to say they are a pretty good contender. The addition of the almond extract (wonder why I never thought of that) in the frosting is pretty incredible, yum! This dough does make a good drop cookie, but I think they are a little too soft to roll out and cut into shapes, even after over-night refrigeration. Now the true test will come when my family and friends give them a try.

Fairy Drops

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cream of tartar

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sifted powdered sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 tsp. almond extract

Sift dry ingredients and set aside. Cream butter until smooth. Add sugars, beat until fluffy. Add oil, eggs, almond extract mix well. Add flour mixture just until combined. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll teaspoons of dough into balls. Flatten with glass. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until just set.

Almond Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. almond extract

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 Tbsp. light cream or milk

Beat butter until fluffy. Beat in almond and vanilla extract. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk. Beat until smooth.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cranberry, Orange and Apple Relish

I know this is the time of year that people are getting out their slow cookers, but don't forget about the pressure cooker. If you are not familiar with the pressure cooker, it's kind of like the opposite of a slow cooker. It's a healthy, quick way to cook. The cooking time is cut in 2/3.
I have a kuhn Rikon, which is one of the brands that we sell at the kitchen store. In fact last week we had a demo and made this relish in the store. I thought I'd give it a try tonight, and it was delicious. It took 5 minute! I will be making this for thanksgiving.

image: Kuhn Rikon
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
3 cups (1 package) fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
zest and juice of 1 whole orange
Place all the ingredients in a 4 qt. or larger pressure cooker and stir well to blend. Close the lid and bring pressure to the first red ring. Adjust heat to stabilize and cook 5 minutes. Allow the pressure to subside naturally, off heat. Serve at room temperature.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Holiday Baking

I have been browsing the blogsphere looking for recipes that would work well for Christmas. I stumbled across these at Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy. Susan named them appropriately... HolyCrapTheseAreAmazing Cookies. Not only are they amazingly delicious, they are so easy to make, and no baking. Perfect for Christmas gift giving.

You can find the recipe here, enjoy!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Who Needs Pumpkin Pie...

When you can have these incredible Pumpkin Squares?
I have been hearing about these pumpkin squares for a couple of years now at the kitchen store. The owner of the store has been making them for many years for her family. Well... she shared the recipe, and I tried it out today. All I can say is I may never make pumpkin pie again! DELICIOUS! And they are so easy to make.

Pumpkin Squares
1 cup sifted all purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
2 eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 Tbsp. butter
Combine flour, rolled oats, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter in mixing bowl. Mix until crumbly using an electric mixer on low speed, or a pastry blender. Press in ungreased 13x9x2 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, salt and spices in a mixing bowl. Beat well. Pour into baked crust. Bake 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Combine pecans, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 Tablespoons butter. Sprinkle over pumpkin filling. Return to oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes or until filling is set. Cool in pan and cut in 2 inch squares.
Of course the next time I make these I am going to use egg beaters, and fat free evaporated milk. I'll let you know how they turn out.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Andrea and David

My good friend, Andrea, had a beautiful fall wedding last month. The reception was held at Oak Farm Vineyards, in this fabulous, old, rustic barn.

It was a perfect backdrop for her colors, brown and green. I love how natural it looked.
This is the dessert table, She had a two tierd cake, chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, and mini lemon cheesecakes. I made the cheesecakes. I was flattered that she wanted them as part of her desserts.

image: Tom Saragoza
Isn't she a beautiful bride? This is one of my favorite pictures.
The professional pictures were all taken by a very talented local photographer, Tom Saragoza, also known as my daughter's boyfriend :)

image: Tom Saragoza

Aren't the grounds beautiful?

image: Tom Saragoza
Awww, the happy couple.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ina Garten's Barn

I picked up this month's copy of House Beautiful and was very happy to find pictures of Ina's barn. I love her style. Simple, clean, neutral and natural. Very calming.

My dream

I love how she hasn't over accessorized... just what you need.
Ina believes in using good quality, simple ingredients in her food, and she feels it should be the same in decorating. I couldn't agree more.
Now I'd like to see pictures of the inside of her home.
all images: House Beautiful

Monday, November 3, 2008


This is the little night stand that I found at the consignment shop last weekend.
I just love the legs, the molding, even the nob. I have no idea how old it is, but it looks so fifties to me.

And here it is after a couple of coats of black paint, and in it's new home.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Rosie was just kind of cozy and cuddly today. And for some reason being very still for the camera, so I thought I'd get these pictures while I could.

Dessert Table

Saturday was my friend's daughter's first high school formal dance. She had dinner catered in for a group of her friends, and asked me to make the desserts. This is a picture of the dessert table. I made small round sugar cookies, chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting, magnolia's vanilla cupcakes, and chocolate brownies. My friend's daughter looked beautiful, and it sounds like they had a great time.